Economic turmoil proves need for financial ed programs |

Economic turmoil proves need for financial ed programs

With the recent volatility on Wall Street, those of us trying to survive on Main Street had better become more financially literate. If the hallowed halls of banking and lending institutions can crumble, so can our respective personal financial frameworks. For the last two years, consumer spending has outpaced after-tax earnings, and we carry approximately $2.5 trillion in debt, excluding home mortgages. We can, and must, teach the next generation to do better.

When did you first learn what compound interest was? Did you understand mortgage rates before you bought your first house? Or are these concepts still a little cloudy for you to articulate even now? Are you a responsible steward of the economy, and will you teach your children to do the same?

Unfortunately, research indicates that only 43 percent of parents have discussed the importance of prioritizing needs and wants with their kids, and a surprising 42 percent of parents have not taken any steps whatsoever to discuss financial basics with their children (Capital One’s 2006 Back to School Survey).

Many parents assume ” incorrectly ” that their children learn money management skills as part of their school’s curriculum, when in fact, fewer than half of U.S. states require even a basic economics course, much less personal financial literacy education. In Colorado, financial literacy education is a requirement, but additional funding is generally not provided.

Sound financial education and a solid grounding in fiscal responsibility are basic self-defense for all citizens, especially young people. An investment now in teaching America’s youth how to earn, save, and budget ” how to manage credit, how to control their personal finances rather than vice versa ” will pay dividends in the long term.

How can young people get this financial knowledge that they so desperately need? Fortunately, there are organizations that are answering the call to educate the next generation of consumers about how to effectively manage their money.

Junior Achievement is one such organization, working closely with the business and education communities to deliver programs that teach K-12 students age-appropriate, hands-on lessons about how to be financially literate. These students, possessing the necessary practical skills, will grow up to run our nation’s businesses, government entities and educational institutions.

We encourage businesses to support our organization, Junior Achievement, which currently reaches more than four million K-12 students in the U.S. annually and over 2,000 students locally. The turmoil in our financial markets clearly demonstrates the need to take action today. It’s a sound investment in our children’s futures. If you are interested in volunteering, serving on the board, or would like more information, please contact Amy Spradlin at 618-4256 or e-mail

By Junior Achievement of the Roaring Fork Valley’s Board of Directors: Jody Baehr, Susan Blizzard, Clayton Collier, Abraham Baeza, Chet Garling, Amy Spradlin, Paula Stepp, Robin Tolan, Peter Waller, Katie Waller, and Debbie Wilde

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